Fiction from Web del Sol


Ted Pelton
an assembled text

A factory worker rubs the sleepiness from his eyes as the report quickly ends and the screen returns to black and white.  A lull in the conversation was enough now to send Neal immediately to sleep.  A sleepy-eyed man can be my death.   After a few days of this you’re like the soldier marching through Europe cramped and red-eyed and tired, movements automatic, not fully awake but unable to sleep, sizzling from artificial stimulants or the stimulus of constant danger but not deriving any energy from it.  After years of struggle, addresses to small groups and countless nights of little sleep, he began to have a measure of success.  All he does is sleep all the time.  And so you can be lulled to sleep.  

            Besides, I like the danger -- it’s like when we were first dating and used to meet at the Jersey shore at Gramma’s and do it in the living room while she was sleeping.  But don’t be lulled to sleep.  But no, the graveness of the newsman’s tone had alerted him; he had listened closely to the sparse available details; he had rubbed his eyes to make sure he had not been half asleep.  But these past few months there’s been a new type of cat -- hipsters are carelessly sleeping off their long nights in mounds of beans while lorries back in and out to the four storeys of half-moon doors, loading.  Clancy now sleep. 

            “Do you want to get some sleep?”  “Don’t you need to get some sleep before you drive?” I asked Neal.  Don’t walk in your sleep.  Even if you find a place to stretch out there’s nowhere to really sleep on a train -- at best, you sort of fall into a trance where your thinking matches up with the rhythm of the tracks’ bud-a-thump bud-a-thump but your brain never actually shuts off or recesses into pure dream.  Even wanting sleep I can’t keep myself from laughing.  He hasn’t had much sleep.  He’s not going to let me go back to sleep until I let him tell me. 

            His face is in shadow and he’s doing something -- I still can’t tell what -- but he’s the most forlorn man in the world, I can tell that, laboring on in the wee of night as the world sleeps its sound sleep of feather mattresses. I masturbated, but without any special thrills, just a straight jack off to calm myself for sleep.

            “I’d like to get some sleep.”  I don’t know if he’s actually asleep, or half-asleep, or faking out of humiliation.   I was still half-asleep but I knew something was up.  I will sleep aboard with my comrades at sea!  “I’m dead, and if I don’t catch up on sleep now, I won’t make it through the week.”  I’m sleeping in my own bed tonight. 

            I’ve always been creeped by dead people ever since my grandmother died when I was a little kid, right after she’d told me a story and I went to sleep, cause when I woke up she was dead right next to me and her arm was down across me and -- oh, Lord! -- I still get a shudder to tell it.  If my mother had been able to see how we were living in New York -- people coming in at all hours, sleeping on the couch or the floor, wherever, the door open to everyone, or staying up all night talking and having parties, not to mention the grass! 

            If we want to get out early tomorrow, I should get some sleep. 

            If you are lulled to sleep, you will find yourself living in a world where you are afraid to shit.

            It’s a contrast between sleep and waking, between the vigor of young, athletic blood and the quickness with which it wears itself out.  Maybe I’m talking this way because I haven’t yet really caught up on sleep, and it makes me dreamy.

            Never, never sleepwalk with your gun.  Nor do I want to, when I see what growing up means -- babies are helpless, and they take all of your time,  and you never get any sleep.  “Now can I go back to sleep?”

            Red leaves to go set some sleep.  Red’s senses bolt upright even as his body remains slumped down where he’s been sleeping.  Red, sleeping in the dining car before dawn as there isn’t a spare bit of space on the train out of Boston, hears something nearby which stirs him awake.

            Since you will be choosing our ship, you best get a good night’s sleep. 

           Sleep -- the last refuge of a scoundrel!  Sleep.  “Sleep is for pussies,” said Neal, winking, “Meow!”  Sleeping, asleep, you are vulnerable.  So it’s a good place to crash until, one day without warning shipments start coming in, stir the cats from their sleep lest they get buried in tons of green coffee.  Still sleepy, lids drooping down. 

            “Tell me later, let me sleep.”  The heist isn’t tonight -- tonight they’re cruising the neighborhood to try to detect potential dangers and maybe see if they can tell how often the cops come by, though the Bronx is pretty sleepy and you don’t expect to find houses locked -- in Harlem people hardly ever even lock their houses.  The sleepy eyes smile, they don’t know how beautiful.  The sleepy-eyed smile goes to the heart, is so innocent.  “Then after we’re through in this little town you can sleep all the way to Indiana if you want.”

            Then you can go back to sleep.

            There’s a look, and it’s helped by youth, of one so beautiful that it’s the smile of first awaking, a ridge of sleep still blemishing the cheek.  We also did it once on the deck of Dad’s yacht while everybody else was sleeping.  We were out on the front room foldout couch because it had been so hot -- our best hope for a good night sleep was to catch the crossdraft between the two windows in the front room.  “Well, I suppose I’ve already been burning the candle at both ends and another night without sleep won’t really kill me either.”  Why do we live our daily lives as lies, waiting for that moment when the rest of the world goes to sleep when we can get together and get at it, the soul of it all? 

            Wilbert never came home except to sleep and pour some water over his head before going out to his other job.  “Yes, Scott, but you don’t want to end up sleeping another night in the gutter.”  You should sleep a little before you go.  You sleep.  You’ll need your sleep and energy tomorrow.



This text was assembled for Suburban Samizdat: SLEEP, the sixth in a series of themed gatherings of writers, musicians, and performance artists in Tonawanda, NY, November 30, 2001, hosted by Ron Ehmke and Don Krieger.  The method was to select every sentence from my two books to date -- a short story collection, Endorsed by Jack Chapeau, and an unpublished novel manuscript, Malcolm and Jack (and Other Famous American Criminals) -- in which “sleep” appears, then alphabetize the sentences by first words.  The only adjustment in the resulting text was to put in paragraph breaks.